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“Eleven down,” says Roy soberly. “Ten to go.”

Michael laughs a little nervous laugh. “You can’t believe we’ll cave that easily! We can keep pumping money into this thing forever. It’s more than worth the cost.”

“There are already cracks in the barrier, Michael.” Roy puts his hand on the sepia surface, trembling with strain. “It’s impatient out there. It wants in, and it’s older than we are young.”

Michael chews his lip. “Just another twenty. That’s all we need.”

The wall around their paradise is translucent. The Commons roars and batters against it, vast and mighty and hungrier every year.